Literary greats and their favourite libations

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There’s a famous stereotype that the best writers were drunks. Well, that may be the case with these literary legends, who produced some of their finest works while drinking these drinks.

f scott fitzgerald 

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Gin Rickey
Notable works: The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

It’s well known that Fitzgerald was a bit of an ‘alky’ and he reportedly loved gin because he thought people couldn’t smell it on his breath.

Recipe: 60ml gin, 20ml lime juice, club soda

Quote: “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

oscar wilde

Oscar Wilde: Absinthe
Notable works: The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde was a big fan of absinthe, and made this statement about his preferred libation: “After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.” He was also a big fan of Champagne.

Recipe: Absinthe

Quote: “Work is the curse of the drinking class.”

ernest hemingway

Ernest Hemingway: Mojito
Notable works: A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea and The Sun Also Rises.

First and foremost, Hemingway loved mojitos. He even made the Cuban bar La Bodeguita del Medio famous when, as a regular customer, he wrote on the wall “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.”

Recipe: 35ml light rum, carbonated water, 30ml lime juice, 12 mint pieces, 45ml simple syrup

Quote: “A man does not exist until he is drunk.”

edgar allen poe 

Edgar Allan Poe: Brandy eggnog
Notable works: short stories such as The Pit and the Pendulum and poems such as The Raven.

Poe loved eggnog, especially if it was one of the special Poe family eggnog. – a recipe which was passed down through generations. He also favoured straight brandy – a bottle at a time.

Recipe: 7 eggs, separated, 1 cup sugar, 5 cups whole milk, divided, 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups brandy, 1/4 cup rum, Nutmeg

Quote: “I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge.”

truman capote 

Truman Capote: Screwdriver
Notable works: Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood.

Capote claims that, as his day wore on, he’d shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis, but he really loved screwdrivers, calling them “my orange drink”.

Recipe: 50ml vodka, 100ml orange juice, 3 orange slices

Quote: “I’m an alcoholic. I’m a drug addict. I’m homosexual. I’m a genius.”

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jack kerouac

Jack Kerouac: Margarita
Notable works: On the Road, The Town and the City and Big Sur.

Kerouac’s love of margaritas began while he was on one of his drunken road trips to Mexico.

Recipe: 45ml tequila, 15ml triple sec ice cubes, crushed ice, margarita salt, lime juice, lime wedge, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (for the rim of the glass)

Quote: “I’m Catholic and I can’t commit suicide, but I plan to drink myself to death.”

charles bukowski 

Charles Bukowski: Boilermaker
Notable works: The Post Office, Women and around 45 books of poetry

If you’ve ever read any Bukowski, you’ll know that he was quite partial to a drink, or two, or three, or 30. While he was a big beer drinker, once being quoted as saying “good people drink good beer”, when he had the money he would always have a bourbon chaser.

Recipe: 355ml beer, 45ml bourbon.

Quote: “I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed but all I could do was to get drunk again.”

william s burroughs 

William S Burroughs: Vodka Coke
American writer: Junky, Queer and Naked Lunch

Burroughs was probably more famous for his extreme experimentation with a variety of psychedelic, narcotic and, well, every type of drug imaginable, but he also downed odd voddy and cola whenever he fancied.

Recipe: 30ml vodka, 120ml Coke

Quote: “Our national drug is alcohol. We tend to regard the use of any other drug with special horror.”

jack london 

Jack London: Martini
Notable works: Call of the Wild and White Fang

Jack London was the writing equivalent of a rock star. He had his first drink at the age of five and was chronically drunk in his later years, ultimately dying of alcohol-related complications.

Recipe: 2 oz. gin, 1/4 oz. dry vermouth, 1/8 oz. olive brine, 3 green olives (add or remove olives to your taste), small wedge of lemon (optional)

Quote: “It was not long until I prefaced the beginning of the thousand words with a drink.”

hunter s thompson 

Hunter S Thompson: Wild Turkey bourbon and dry
Dr Thompson loved his bourbon and boy could he drink it. In fact, it was once reported that, during an interview, he put away 20 glass of double Wild Turkey then “walked out as if he’d been drinking tea”. His brand of choice? Wild Turkey – sometimes straight, oft-times strong with dry ginger ale.

Recipe: 60ml Wild Turkey, 120ml ginger beer.

Quote: “Sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind but falling in love and not getting arrested … Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.”

What’s your favourite alcoholic drink? Who’s your favourite author?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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1 Comments

Total Comments: 1
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    I too have had “My daiquiri in El Floridita” in Havana Cuba! And very good it was too.

    There is a statue of Hemingway in the corner, propping up the bar. Reputedly the barman always places a daiquiri in front of him everyday at opening.


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